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Gopher Gulch: This is how I’d planned it all along

There’s something incredibly freeing about my current situation. The lyrics of an old song run through my head: “She never gives out and she never gives in — she just changes her mind.”

That’s how I feel about the yard these days. I’ve just changed my mind.

There’s virtually nothing I can do anyway. The buck will eat whatever he pleases, and he eats longer than I can stay awake. Just as dawn is the very best time for bird watching, dusk is the best time for watching wild mammals. As the birds go to bed and people move indoors, the bats are the first to wake for breakfast.

“Mornin’ Sam,” he says to the swallow as they pass in flight.

“G’night Bill, and good hunting,” responds Sam, tired after a long day of pest control. “There was a late afternoon mosquito hatch in the frog pond and I didn’t have time to get them all. You might start there.”

“Thanks for the tip. Sleep safe.” About the same time raccoons wake, stretch and plan the night’s foraging. Foxes sniff the air, smelling that big buck. He smells like prey but the tasty part is so far out of reach. Gopher Gulch has become a wildlife sanctuary.

As dusk deepens, all the nighttime noshers are on the move and the changing of the guard takes place as neatly as it does at Buckingham Palace.

Humans have their own evening rituals. Some have favorite television shows while others go out to dinner. Some actually converse with one another, nearly a lost art. I settle down near the big front windows to watch whatever moves through the yard between sunset and dark.

Having decided I really planted all that stuff for the deer, the same way a cat falling off the couch decides he planned it that way, I have no concerns. I’m free to enjoy the show without worrying about what gets eaten. Whatever survives is hardy stock, and next year I’ll plant more of it, as well as a few new things, some of which deer will find distasteful.

Last night’s show was amazing. In an area where hunting is common, bucks rarely live long enough to have more than four points on their rack of antlers. If they do live, they do it by staying far from people. But this one has no reason to fear people, having spent several years thinking he was cattle.

Perhaps that explains our mutual interest. This morning the milkweed I saved for finches and butterflies, close against the front window, looks like it was hit by a tornado. He stood right there, his face only a couple feet from mine, watching me while I watched him. Behind him, a young raccoon hunted hopefully for leftover bird food.

If the buck sticks close to the house, he may survive hunting season. In the meantime, there’s virtually nothing I can do but relax and enjoy the inevitable. Ain’t life grand?

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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